Ahern backs peaceful regime change for Burma

The Government will continue to push for a peaceful regime change in Burma, Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern said today.

Mr Ahern today met with the Burma Action Ireland solidarity group as thousands of Buddhist monks continued street protests against the military rulers.

Riot police and soldiers were today deployed on the streets of the capital, Yangon in an apparent bid to crack down on the demonstrations.

The minister is expected to raise the issue during a UN speech and meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in the US next week.

“Ireland’s voice would continue to uphold peaceful protests. The international community must maintain pressure for change.

“We have all been struck by the dignity and courage of the protests by thousands of Buddhist monks and tens of thousands of ordinary people in cities across the country, and their appeal for national reconciliation, genuine democracy and improved living conditions.”

US president George Bush today announced new economic sanctions against Burma’s military rulers and urged other countries to follow suit.

Mr Ahern called on the Burmese authorities to show maximum restraint in dealing with these peaceful, legitimate, demonstrations.

He said: “The Burmese authorities must fulfil their promises of reconciliation and democratisation, which the 14 year-long National Convention has singularly failed to deliver.

“The authorities must engage democratically with the democratic opposition and ethnic groups in open and inclusive dialogue.

“The world needs to speak with one voice in ensuring restraint on the part of the Burmese regime in dealing with the peaceful protests.”

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